Webster shares Qatar lead
Steve Webster (Getty Images)
Doha - England's Steve Webster has shot a 70 to share the top spot with Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello after the third round of the Qatar Masters on Friday.
Webster, who had taken the tournament by storm in the opening round with a first hole albatross, was slightly off colour on Friday as he missed a few key putts for birdies to waste the chance for an outright lead going into the final day.
Nevertheless he is still in great position to win his third title on the European Tour since turning pro in 1995 after overnight leader Cabrera-Bello also played an indifferent third round by posting a 73
The Spaniard, who was on 13 under after the second round, scored just two birdies as against three birdies for 73 which gave him an aggregate of 12-under 204.
Frenchman Adrien Saddier, Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and South African Thomas Aiken were tied for third with 205, while five players including 2013 runner-up George Coetzee and former champion Paul Lawrie were a further shot down on 206.
Webster had a lackluster front nine during which he dropped two shots on the fourth and fifth holes, but three birdies, including a 20 foot putt on the 14th, helped him retrieve the situation.
The Englishman, a former Portugal Masters and Italian Open champion, then was presented with an opportunity to take the outright lead on the last hole, but after a smooth chip to 10 feet he had to settle for par.
Webster admitted that a bit of overconfidence had crept into his play.
"I don't know what happened first, I hit it really good on the range and I think I got a bit cocky on the course and hit so many bad shots the first, well, six, seven holes, and I don't know, really," he said.
"And hit a really good putt on 11 and thought it feels a little bit better now. But the first six holes, it was like I never played golf before."
He also said that the wind had made scoring difficult after two calm days.
Cabrera-Bello needed a birdie himself on the 18th to keep himself ahead of the chasing pack but suffered a bad bounce and had to make do with a share of the lead.
"I'm a little bit disappointed for not having to keep a couple shots ahead of the pack like I started the day," the Spaniard said.
"I felt I had a moment that I could have if I maybe would have sunk the putt at the 12th for birdie, but I didn't."
Earlier, French rookie Saddier caught the eye with a remarkable eight-under 64 to put himself in contention for a decent finish.
The 21-year-old, who joined the pro ranks last July, produced a bogey-free round to keep the heat on the leading duo.
Saddier, who finished tied sixth at the Nelson Mandela Championship in December, blazed six birdies over the front nine and picked up two more shots for a three-round aggregate of 11-under 205.
"Yeah, it was a great round. I played very well. I made some great putts. I started very slow. I was six-under after seven.I'm very happy," said Saddier
"I'm from the Q?School so I need to make some good results, so it's great to make 64 today."
Saddier added that the other French pros on the Tour make him feel comfortable on the course.
"The French guys are cool, the other players I don't know very well, it's coming with the time."
Meanwhile, American John Daly, who was in the mix for his first title in 10 years with an eight-under 136 on Thursday, blew his chance with a five over 77 in the third round.
Daly had admitted that he found the Doha Golf Club course difficult, with a string of six bogeys on Friday proving his point as he found himself tied for 44th position with an aggregate of three-under 213.
Leading third round scores at the Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club on Friday (Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 72):
204 - Rafa Cabrera-Bello (ESP) 66-65-73, Steve Webster (ENG) 65-69-70
205 - Adrien Saddier (FRA) 70-71-64, Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN) 68-69-68, Thomas Aiken (RSA) 67-68-70,
206 - Fabrizio Zanotti (PAR) 69-69-68, Paul Lawrie (SCO) 67-70-69, Mikko Ilonen (SWE) 68-67-71, Johan Carlsson (SWE) 69-65-72, George Coetzee (RSA) 64-69-73
207 - Sergio Garcia (ESP) 71-67-69, Kristoffer Broberg (SWE) 69-68-70, Dawie Van der Walt (RSA) 65-72-70, Branden Grace (RSA) 67-69-71
208 - Seve Benson (ENG) 68-71-69, Darren Fichardt (RSA) 69-70-69, Peter Uihlein (USA) 70-69-69, Simon Dyson (ENG) 68-69-71, Matthew Baldwin (ENG) 68-66-74, Francois Calmels (FRA) 66-70-73, Romain Wattel (FRA) 67-68-74